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US Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, MD, has awarded Boeing a not-to-exceed $131.555 million contract to deliver and upgrade weapon replaceable assemblies to optimise Block I low-rate initial production F/A-18E/F Infrared Search and Track (IRST) systems, including technical risk reduction in support of engineering change proposal development and F/A-18 integration and tactics development. Work at Boeing facilities in Orlando, FL and St Louis, MO, is expected to be complete by April 2022.

The IRST provides SUPER HORNETs with the capability to partially defeat enemy low-observable or ‘stealth’ capabilities by using long-range thermal imaging to focus on signatures caused by skin friction or engine exhaust plumes. Secretary of Defense Jim Matthis has recently abjured the US Navy to ensure that 80% of its F/A-18 fleet is mission-capable by the end of FY19.

Boeing will upgrade the IRST capability for the USN’s F/A-18E/F fleet. (Photo: Boeing)

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